Sunday, 7 June 2020

What I'm reading: Romance with Hardy echoes

Katie Hutton: THE GYPSY BRIDE


It’s 1917. In Oxford-shire’s Chiltern Hills beautiful young Ellen Quainton has been brought up in the austere Primitive Methodist faith. Grieving for a fiancé lost on the Western Front, she is wooed by Sam Loveridge, one of a group of gypsies helping to bring in the harvest. Sam has an ill-tempered wife who has failed to give him any children.

Ellen recklessly surrenders to seduction by the hand-some gypsy. Romany culture is as hide-bound as the “Prims” and Sam is forced to serve jail-time for another man’s crime. In prison he is brutally flogged, but then befriends a parson who teaches him to read and write. Meanwhile, in the Chilterns, an elderly widower rescues Ellen from the shame of pregnancy, but her heart has been lost to Sam, who knows he will look for her after his release.

Passion and tragedy are combined by Katie Hutton into a rich powerful saga. The author is a writer of substance: this fateful love affair brings echoes of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow. The Gypsy Bride has a fine pedigree; romance readers will find it deeply absorbing. And a sequel is promised next year!

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